What should we do if computers predict who may develop a terminal disease, attempt suicide or contract diabetes? And what should you or your doctor do on receiving such a forecast? Is it even possible? Yes – the growing accuracy of computer algorithms suggests we will soon be facing such challenges.
Researchers at Florida State University, for example, recently mined data from electronic health records in which they identified a group of patients who had attempted to commit suicide. They then used the fast-growing data analysis technique, machine learning, to identify a combination of factors that could most accurately predict a suicide attempt.
This kind of predictive modelling is not new, but the capabilities of computers to recognise complex interactions among variables associated with outcomes of interest has greatly advanced in recent years. Computers can now not only analyse huge volumes of data, they are also capable of reading and understanding free text (such as a doctor’s dictated note) and can combine multiple sources of information to achieve accurate predictions. Using machine learning, these systems are also designed to continuously improve as they gain experience with the outcomes they are measuring. As a result, they produce timely insights that exceed the capacity of humans.
The Florida State University researchers found the machine learning algorithms could predict a suicide attempt with 80 to 90 percent accuracy up to two years in advance. Other organisations are developing similar approaches for a variety of other conditions such as depression, heart failure, heart attacks, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic kidney disease.
The health industry is awash with data that can feed and inform these computer models, making it likely that their accuracy will continue to improve. Are we rapidly approaching a time when computers are so confident in their predictions we should consider that …read more
Source:: The Huffington Post – UK Tec